Above: From left,U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen Lily Shaughnessy, Zoe Stanford, Sailor Snell, and Ivy Somers at Ponaganset High School early Saturday morning (12/9/23), after they completed their second 10-mile segment.
Every year, midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy and cadets from West Point run footballs to the site of the annual Army-Navy game and this year. Typically, that means a fairly equidistant run for both academies, since the game is usually played in Philadelphia. Not this year. Instead, with the game at Gillette Stadium for the first time (in honor of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party), the midshipmen had a 458-mile journey from Annapolis, Md., to Foxborough. For the cadets making the trip from New York, it’s a mere 200 miles.
Ok, it’s quite a feat regardless.
One of nearly 200 midshipmen and women running for the Naval Academy – all members of 13th Company – is plebe Lily Shaughnessy (EGHS Class of 2023), who ran two 10-mile legs Friday, with the second one starting after 10 p.m. in Dayville, Conn., just a short distance from the Rhode Island border. That 10-mile segment ends at Ponaganset High School, where the next group will take over. The football is scheduled to arrive at the stadium at 5 a.m.
“It’s been a once in a lifetime experience to have the opportunity to run in this time-honored tradition,” Shaughnessy texted Friday afternoon. The academies have been running the footballs to the game site for the past 42 years; the Saturday game will be the 124th time they played against each other.
Lily’s parents, Bill and Marie-Therese, met the runners at both Dayville and Ponagansett, with chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate and “fanfare,” said Marie-Therese. At age 96, Lily’s grandfather, James Gillcrist of Wakefield – Marine veteran of both WWII and Korea, will not be there but he’s “so proud,” said Marie-Therese. “He is so impressed with her dedication to her family, faith and country!”
“The best thing about the ball run is that everyone in 13th Company gets to participate – they’re expected to actually,” Lily explained. “Unlike Army, whose marathon team runs their ball, we aren’t trained runners but we all put out for each other. We would never be able to get the ball to its final destination without leaning on one another. Being able to say I ran the ball for Navy with some of my best friends is a true honor.”
She and the rest of the runners will be at the game Saturday afternoon. May the better team win!
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